Monday, May 27, 2024

ARGENTINA | 10-05-2024 11:28

At least 30 people hospitalised after trains collide in Buenos Aires

Emergency services and police on site after two trains collide in Palermo; At least 30 people transported to hospital in wake of crash, but no fatalities reported.

At least 30 passengers were injured on Friday morning after two trains collided in Palermo, Buenos Aires.

No fatalities were reported, though two individuals were seriously injured.

The accident took place on the San Martín line that connects Pilar with the Retiro terminal in Buenos Aires.

The reasons for the accident are under investigation.

The SAME emergency service said that firefighters had evacuated everyone on the passenger train after the accident.

"There are no fatalities. Dogs have combed through the carriages. We assisted 90 passengers, 30 of whom were transferred to hospitals, two of them with head trauma who were evacuated by helicopter," said SAME official Alberto Crescenti, speaking at the scene.

The two seriously injured are one of the train drivers and a passenger, according to local press reports.

Some 60 ambulances, six motorbikes and two helicopters were involved in the evacuation operation, SAME said.

"When we arrived they were already transferring the injured, they were very beaten, those who were not injured left by their own means," said Facundo Gómez, a police officer involved in the operation.

Locals in the area reported hearing a loud noise at around 10.30am after the train crash.

Emergency services from Buenos Aires City, firefighters and police rushed to the site, at the intersection of Figueroa Alcorta and Dorrego avenues.

Luckily, only one of the formations was carrying passengers, with the other said to be transporting materials for railway maintenance work. 

Authorities said there were no children among the injured.



Several injuries were reported by local media, which showed footage of passengers being transported to hospital. 

The crash "was very strong ... there were many people on the floor," an unnamed passenger told the TN news channel.

"Trenes Argentinos informs that a train of the San Martin line collided with a locomotive and an empty wagon at 10.31am, at kilometre 4.900 on the Palermo viaduct at the height of Alcorta Avenue,” said the operator in a statement.

“At the moment, the company's staff is working to evacuate the people in the train and the emergency services of the City of Buenos Aires are assisting the passengers. The service has been interrupted," it continued.

"Ten hospitals received the injured," said Transport Secretary Franco Mogetta.

Buenos Aires City Mayor Jorge Macri spoke to the press around an hour after the accident.

"In 90 minutes we managed to evacuate the injured," he said. "There are 30 seriously injured. The evacuation operation worked very well."

"For now there is not enough information about the mechanics of the accident," he added.

One hypothesis is that a fault in the electrical signalling system may be to blame.

"There are multiple hypotheses about how the accident occurred, there are reports of cable theft, but we want to be cautious, we are investigating the warnings and signals," said Mogetta .

The theft of high-voltage cables – in order to sell the copper inside them – is a frequent problem in Argentina, with recent cases of deaths and serious injuries due to electrocution.

Omar Maturano, the head of La Fraternidad, the union that groups together train drivers, complained in a radio interview about the theft of cables and the deterioration of locomotives and carriages.

"They steal the signalling cables, we have been demanding for 10 days that they be repaired but there are no spare parts. There is a total degradation of the company, not only of spare parts for signalling, but of trains and cars because there is no budget," he said.

Maturano alleged that the recent lack of financing for Trenes Argentinos, a state-owned firm, is to "allow a [private] company to come in and buy it at a lower price."

Nearly all transport services, including trains, were paused Thursday on a 24-hour strike staged in protest against President Javier Milei's government, which wants to privatise all state rail firms.

"We are not in favour of privatisation, but we are in favour of granting a concession it to private capital and that they put money into the infrastructure so that the trains work as they should and with the [number of] employees they should have," said Maturano.

The accident was reminiscent of the one that occurred 12 years ago at the Once terminal in central Buenos Aires, which left 52 passengers dead and hundreds injured when a train failed to stop on its way into the station.


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